Scott Wraight
Tuesday November 4th, 2008

Biggest Climb: Lightning (30 to 11)
Biggest Fall: Colorado (10 to 22)

A reminder: these rankings are based mainly on quality of play (with an emphasis on recent games), overall record and my gut instinct. Heck, if I went strictly off record, these would be no different than the standings. Also: statistics and records are through Sunday's games.

Note: Want to send me a comment about the rankings? Scroll to the bottom of this page for my Mailbag.

NHL Power Rankings
Last Week: 6
It's hard to imagine a better week than the one the Sharks turned in. They knocked off the Stanley Cup finalists (Penguins, Red Wings) in two games before downing the Avs at the Pepsi Center, improving on an already franchise-best start. Early favorite for Executive of Year: GM Doug Wilson for hiring ex-Wings assistant Todd McLellan, who gave Detroit a taste of its own medicine in Thursday's 4-2 victory.
Last Week: 4
They produced a pair of impressive feats last week. First, they enjoyed their first home win over the Hurricanes in more than four years. Since the 2004-05 lockout, Carolina had won nine straight at the Bell Centre -- including three during the 2006 playoffs. On Thursday, the Habs shut down the league's third-best power play 10 times in a 2-1 victory over the Wild. Montreal's win streak will probably be at five by the end of this week.
Last Week: 3
Let me begin by saying the Wings, as a whole, are playing well. But now it's time to do some dissecting. The only line consistently generating offense is Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Holmstrom and Marian Hossa. Where are the other three lines? In fact, that trio has combined for 15 goals and 37 points whereas all the other forwards combined have just 21 goals and 51 points.
Last Week: 5
Sorry, Rangers fans. I know your team is playing well, but I just can't look past Saturday's debacle. Before Saturday, the Rangers had allowed just eight goals in the third period. Then came that game at Air Canada Centre, where the Leafs scored five in the final 20 minutes to hand the Blueshirts their first road defeat of the season. It was the first time New York had allowed five in a period since March 27, 2007.
Last Week: 2
Ten games in and the injury bug has hit hard. Already without Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan, the Wild lost top blueliner Brent Burns before Saturday's game. It got worse: Tomas Mojzis, Burns' replacement, was injured on his second shift, though Eric Belanger notched the game-winner. So how long can coach Jacques Lemaire continue to win with patched-up lineups? "Until I die," he said. "And it's coming."
Last Week: 1
Jason Pominville and Derek Roy combined for 59 goals and 161 points last season. That production has yet to carry over to 2008-09. The duo has just five goals and 14 points -- putting them on pace for 101 points combined. Despite that, there's no reason for Sabres fans to panic. After back-to-back losses to Ottawa and Tampa Bay, Buffalo got untracked Saturday with a 5-0 rout of the Capitals. Looking at the upcoming schedule, I see another win streak coming.
Last Week: 16
It appears the Tim Thomas-Manny Fernandez goaltending platoon ended with Thomas starting four straight. He went 3-1 including back-to-back 1-0 wins. It also appears that Michael Ryder may be snapping out of his slump. He had a point in two of his last three games after notching just three in the first seven. With Thomas now the No. 1 man between the pipes and the special teams not making too many mistakes, look for the Bruins to stay in the top 10 -- at least for a couple weeks.
Last Week: 18
On the strength of Teemu Selanne's late power-play goal, the Ducks edged the Jackets to secure a 4-0 road trip for just the second time in franchise history. J-S Giguere has been shaky in net, so it's a good thing the offense has averaged 4.6 goals over the past five games. Leading the charge -- again -- is Ryan Getzlaf, who has a six-game point streak including four multipoint outings.
Last Week: 8
Before Monday, when was the last time Kevin Weekes started in net for the Devils? Try Jan. 5, 2007, meaning Marty Brodeur had 56 consecutive starts before injuring his elbow in Saturday's game. The job may be Weekes' for a while with Brodeur listed as day-to-day and the word being that he could be out for 3-4 months. "It's always nice to play," he told the Star-Ledger. "Obviously we're disappointed [in Brodeur's injury]. The whole hockey world is disappointed."
Last Week: 12
It looks like the Kipper has officially returned to his old dominant self. During the Flames' recent six-game winning streak, Miikka Kiprusoff allowed just nine goals on 152 shots. Quite a contrast to the 22 he allowed during a 1-3-1 start. The 2006 Vezina-winner, who has played every minute for the Flames this season, may be able to stay hot this week with matchups against the Coyotes, Preds and Jackets.
Last Week: 11
They have a neat little pattern since Oct. 17: win one, lose one. This gritty, high-energy team is still trying to get everyone going. Take for instance Sunday's 6-4 victory over the Leafs. Carolina scored a season-high three power-play goals, rookie Dwight Helminen recorded his first NHL goal and Sergei Samsonov earned his first point of the season. Now if the Canes could figure a way to ignite Patrick Eaves (no goals, two assists).
Last Week: 7
At least they finished an eight-day, four-city, cross-country trip with a win after dropping the first three. In those three defeats, Sidney & Co. scored a combined four goals. That prompted coach Michel Therrien to separate top-liners Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. I'm not about to call the Pens a poor road team, but it's probably a good thing they get a few days to work on things before their next game.
Last Week: 17
With Saturday's shootout win over the Jackets, the Blackhawks earned their first road win and improved to 4-1-2 under coach Joel Quenneville. The biggest reason for the newfound success under Quenneville is added offense from the defense; 11 of their 35 goals have been scored by defensemen. "We have the weapons back there, so let's load it up and pound it and make sure one or two guys are in screening positions," Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune.
Last Week: 20
They may have been only 2-2 last week, but the two wins were mighty impressive. First, the Leafs burned Marty Brodeur in a 6-5 win over the Devils. Then came Saturday, when they lit the lamp five times in the third period to shock the Rangers, who waltzed into the final 20 minutes with a seemingly secure 2-0 lead.
Last Week: 14
When they edged the Flyers 5-4 on Sunday, the big hero was Ales Hemsky, who scored two goals -- his first in 19 games dating back to last season. "I wouldn't have minded a couple of garbage goals, but I didn't get mentally down and the goals came," he said. Don't be surprised if Hemsky, one of the more streaky players, goes on a bit of a scoring spree.
Last Week: 21
We're barely into November and the Preds are getting a big test in the form of a six-game road trip. Nashville, just 1-3-1 on the road this season, will face the Canucks, Flames, Avs, Sharks, Ducks and Kings. I count one easy game in there. "In a lot of ways, this road trip could define the season," coach Barry Trotz told the Tennessean.
Last Week: 13
The Caps lost to the Sabres 5-0 Saturday, their most lopsided defeat since March. Coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't about to let his players forget about it, so he drove them to the gasping point with a practice he called the toughest of his tenure. Alex Ovechkin's return comes at a perfect time for a team looking for a boost.
Last Week: 19
With Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne leading the charge on Tuesday, the Flyers rolled 7-0 for their 11th straight victory over Atlanta, which hasn't beaten them since a 6-5 OT win at Philly on Nov. 18, 2005. Rumor has it that the Flyers may be interested in adding veteran Brendan Shanahan.
Last Week: 30
The offense appears to have woken up along with rookie Steven Stamkos, who scored his first NHL goal. "I had some butterflies when they announced Vinny [Lecavalier] as the goal scorer, but he told the ref that I tipped it in," said Stamkos, who later added a second tally. Lets see if both can keep it going on an upcoming five-game road trip.
Last Week: 9
From the rather useless information department: Patrik Berglund on Saturday scored the 10,000th goal in Blues history. On the injury front, rookie T.J. Oshie (ankle) is out indefinitely while goalie Manny Legace (hip) will accompany the team on its West Coast trip. Paul Kariya, meanwhile, continues with his strong play -- four points in last three games.
Last Week: 26
The Sens knocked off Buffalo 5-2 on Monday. That shouldn't be a big surprise as they are 16-5-4 against the Sabres over the past four seasons. What was a bit of a brow-raiser is that Ottawa went into Monday's game with just eight goals in four consecutive defeats, while Buffalo had allowed just 1.6 goals per game.
Last Week: 10
The Avalanche started the season with three straight losses. They then won five consecutive before dropping four in a row. Talk about a frustrating team. "We have been on a roller coaster," coach Tony Granato said. "We've done things well enough at certain times to make us feel optimistic, but when you lose games, you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing."
Last Week: 15
It's been a tough start for the Panthers, who sport the 29th-ranked offense and have scored just six goals in their last four games. But one standout is Cory Stillman. In his first season with Florida, the veteran winger leads the team with five goals and has four assists. Stillman is well on his way to his ninth 20-goal season.
Last Week: 23
They beat the Kings 4-0 on Thursday. Big deal, right? Actually yes. It was the first time Vancouver has shut out the Kings in L.A. in 106 visits to the Forum and Staples Center. The Canucks followed that effort with a wild 7-6 win over the Ducks before falling to the Red Wings two nights later. It's been an up and down first dozen games, especially for Roberto Luongo, who continues to struggle with a 2.99 GAA.
Last Week: 22
Dallas Stars (4-6-2)
With Marty Turco planted on the bench, the Stars turned to Tobias Stephan, who answered the call with his first NHL victory while handing the Wild their first regulation loss. Dallas then followed up the impressive victory with two losses: to Chicago and Boston. If anyone needs proof of a Wraight Curse, it's the Stars, who I picked to win the Stanley Cup.
Last Week: 25
Don't blame Shane Doan for their sluggish start. After nine games, he already has six goals. He didn't reach that mark last season until Game 25; and went on to record 28 and a career-high 78 points. The 32-year-old, on pace for 91 points, became the franchise's all-time leader in game-winning goals (41) in Thursday's triumph over the Pens.
Last Week: 27
Struggling to reach the .500 mark, their win over the Avs on Thursday was a bit of a surprise. It came in a building where Columbus had lost its first 10 games and 13 of its first 14. Since joining the league in 2000-01, the Jackets are 2-13-0 in Denver. Before Thursday's win, their only victory in Colorado was a 3-0 tally on Dec. 5, 2006.
Last Week: 24
Oscar Moller made the decision tough -- or easy, depending on how you look at it. The Kings had nine games to decide whether to send him down to the minors to keep his juniors eligibility. Through nine games, the 19-year old center made it clear he was ready for the NHL -- with four goals and two assists. "I think I've shown my best side," he told the Los Angeles Times.
Last Week: 29
It seems they may have found the solution to their troubles: let Ilya Kovalchuk do the scoring. His two goals and assist beat the Panthers to snap a six-game losing streak. "It seems like when I score, we win," said Kovalchuk, who enjoyed his first two-goal game of the season.
Last Week: 28
The Rick DiPietro tally: left knee, left hip and now another knee injury -- though the team isn't revealing if its on the same knee that needed surgery back in March. That makes three operations in seven months for the Isles' franchise goalie, who is in the third season of a 15-year contract worth $67.5 million. Could things get much worse on Long Island where goals are harder to come by than reasonable property taxes?

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